Since opening its doors in July of 2011, Converge Gallery has been an unrelenting source of cutting-edge art. Fourteen months later, the gallery shows no signs of slowing down. To borrow a phrase, they're remaining relentless.
This is convenient because, during this month and next, the gallery will host "Remaining Relentless," an exhibition of new works by four artists whose work gives new meaning to the words "relentless" and "cutting-edge."
Together, Tyler Coey, Yosiell Lorenzo, Brent Nolasco and Matthew Ryan Sharp are known as the M. collective. "Remaining Relentless" is a continuation of a group exhibition called "Relentless" which was held in Chicago earlier this year.
"The original show dealt with the same ideas as this one: constant persistence," Lorenzo said. "'Remaining Relentless' is more of a continuation or progression."
"This show is a definite continuation," Sharp added. "The collective is always evolving and growing as individuals."
Understanding the four M. collective members as individuals is crucial to understanding them as a group. While they share some of the same professional and artistic interests, Coey, Lorenzo, Nolasco and Sharp have very different aesthetic styles. "It's a mixture," Lorenzo said. "We all bring something different to the table."
Tyler Coey, who hails from Kansas City, Mo., is a visual artist whose work combines the technique of traditional figurative painting with contemporary subjects and icons inspired by graffiti/new school art. Coey's work is always evolving, making it difficult to speak about his overall body of work.
"I feel like I evolve so much that most bodies of work noticeably differ from each other," Coey said. "I have eclectic taste, so I tend to produce eclectic work."
Coey will exhibit a combination of old and new work at the "Remaining Relentless" show, which will show off his versatility and wide-ranging artistic interests. "The new stuff is an effort to explore more thoroughly a geometric undertone that was starting to show in my rendering style," Coey said. "So what's interesting about this show is that people will get to see the figurative and the experimental side by side."
Originally from Connecticut, Yosiell Lorenzo now calls Oakland, Calif. home. Lorenzo's work, which is rooted in texture and emotion, has recently undergone a drastic change of style and subject matter.
"In the past, my work has been based around creature-like figures," Lorenzo said. "The work I'll be showing at Converge is the debut of a new direction for me. The new work is more figurative and mainly female-focused."
Lorenzo's new work depicts a series of horned women who are variously injured: black eyes, bloody lips, bruised cheekbones. In spite of their injuries, Lorenzo's women have a look of spacy indifference or resilience. It's as if they're saying "Is that all you've got?"
"Though the figures may be bruised and battered, they still embody strength in a way that's been consistently part of my message," Lorenzo said. "The new work is my interpretation of 'remaining relentless.' No matter what happens in life, you should keep pressing on. The horns represent perseverance, that constant pushing your way through life."
Brent Nolasco grew up in California and is now based in Allentown, Pa. Nolasco is an artist whose attitude to art fits in perfectly with the "Remaining Relentless" theme. "The development of my art involves constant evolution to new ideas and new forms," Nolasco said. "Progression and change are what I live for. My art gives me the opportunity to create different situations and environments from the landscapes in my mind. I like to break down and rebuild surfaces using various mixed media. Everything in my life and art intermingle into harmony for me."
Nolasco's recent body of work combines painting and sculpture to produce an unique breed of half-animal, half-robot creatures. "I use a multi-faceted palette of mediums and surfaces," Nolasco explained. "I draw from organic and mechanical forms so you cannot always pin-point them as robots or animals. To me they are about life and interaction - a reflection of what I see day to day."
Matthew Ryan Sharp is a Chicago-based artist whose aesthetic is a combination of old and new. Sharp's work has been described as "vintage-contemporary," "carnival-depression era," and "urban-illustration" art.
"I try to make my work look old, like the characters or materials have 'had a life,' " Sharp explained. "'Drowning in antiquity' is a term I really like but I try to remain relevant as well. This is where the 'vintage-contemporary' comes in. The 'carnival-depression era' comes from my love of the color palette, the dust, the wear and tear, the tone of sadness. The 'urban-illustration' aspect comes from my love of graffiti and tattoos - that hard, black line."
Sharp will exhibit a mix of these styles at "Remaining Relentless." "I will have framed, multi-layered pieces, hand-lettered signage, paintings on found objects and salvaged materials, and some mixed-media drawings in mason jars," Sharp said. "My work has warm earth-tones and variations of line weights. It's detail-oriented work with a focus on the visual."
You might say that all four members of the M. Collective create work with a visual focus. For one thing, all four have a background in graphic design, a field founded on visual detail and technique.
"The four of us in the collective are heavily rooted in illustration, which means hard lines, bolder colors and graphic heavy," Sharp said.
Each artist's graphic design background has informed the style of his art to one degree or another, prompting the question: What is the relationship between art and graphic design?
Sharp said there is a fine line separating the two disciplines. "Design needs to have a purpose or endgame," he said. "Art or painting can just exist. I personally feel that when design has no purpose, it fails and if art has too much of a message or purpose, it can get preachy."
Taking an opposite stance, Coey said that graphic design, when held to a certain standard, is practically indistinguishable from art. "To me, graphic design, illustration, product design IS art when done well," he said.
Whatever their opinions on the roles of graphic design, the members of the M. collective share a set of underlying aesthetic interests that unites their work. "Ultimately, we're just four like-minded artists that share a work ethic and passion for fine art."
Along with their passion and work ethic, the four members of M. collective share an enthusiasm about bringing their "Relentless" art to Williamsport.
"I'm excited about this show," Coey said. "I consider it the most important show of the year."
"The overall point of this show is to expose Williamsport to a large, fresh body of new work from the four members," Sharp said. "This show will mark what we are doing best at this current moment and it will give Williamsport a chance to meet us as individuals and interact."
Echoing his fellow collective members, Lorenzo stressed the cutting-edge nature of the work in the exhibition. "I'm hoping to give Williamsport a little something they're not used to seeing," he said.
"Remaining Relentless" will be on display from Sept. 6 to Oct. 27. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday.
For more information about the exhibit and to see examples of the artists' work, visit www.convergegallery.com.